World Stocks Slip for Third Day as Trade, Emerging Market Worries Bite

LONDON (Reuters) -
A man walks past an electronic stock board showing Japan’s Nikkei 225 index and other country’s index at a securities firm in Tokyo Monday. Asian shares were mostly lower Monday amid worries about escalating trade friction between the U.S. and Canada, who have been unable to agree to a revamped trade deal but will continue negotiating this week. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Global stock markets fell for a third straight day on Monday, hurt by worries over the escalation of trade disputes between world powers and a deepening sell-off across emerging market currencies.

With U.S. markets closed for Labor Day, trading activity was generally subdued.

European shares were largely flat, although London’s blue-chip FTSE rallied almost 1 percent& thanks to a weak British pound.

In Asia, MSCI’s broadest index of shares outside Japan and Tokyo’s blue-chip Nikkei& shed about 0.7 percent each.

U.S. President Donald Trump said at the weekend there was no need to keep Canada in the North American Free Trade Agreement and warned Congress not to meddle with the trade talks.

Worries about U.S. tensions with China were also kept alive by a report last week that Mr. Trump had told aides he was ready to impose tariffs on an additional $200 billion worth of imports from China as soon as a public comment period on the plan ends on Thursday.

That would be a major escalation given the United States has already applied tariffs on $50 billion of exports from China.

“As we head into a new week and month, trade concerns will remain front and center of investors’ minds, along with increasing concerns about stability in emerging markets, after the sharp declines seen in Argentina and Turkey’s currency last week,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.

There was also bad news on the economic outlook with surveys showing manufacturing activity took a hit from weak orders in August, a sign firms are feeling the pinch from an intensifying global trade war that could derail global growth.

Across emerging markets, turbulence continued.

Turkey’s lira led emerging currency losses after data showed inflation spiked to almost 18 percent in August, while the Indonesian rupiah fell& to its lowest levels in 20 years.

The Brazilian real weakened more than 1 percent against the U.S. dollar, while the Iranian rial was reported to have hit a record low against the U.S. currency.

Among major currencies, the British pound stood out as the big underperformer, hurt by comments by the European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, that he was “strongly opposed” to British proposals on future trade ties after it leaves the EU.

News that British manufacturers had their weakest month in over two years and export orders suffered a rare fall in August exacerbated sterling’s fall.

The currency was last down 0.7 percent at $1.2874& and weakened 0.8 percent against the euro to 90.24 pence, helping lift London’s blue-chip FTSE 0.95 percent.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback’s value against a basket of other major currencies, was flat at 95.13 after nearing its highest level since Aug. 27.

Oil prices meanwhile rose, supported by concerns that falling Iranian output will tighten markets once U.S. sanctions bite from November, but gains were limited by higher supply from OPEC and the United States.

Brent crude oil was up 63 cents at $78.27 a barrel. U.S. crude was 26 cents higher at $70.05.